Costs to beneficiary of intestate estate

How much costs information are we required to give to beneficiaries.

I am dealing with an intestate estate and my client has obtained letters of administration and one of the beneficiary’s wants a costs estimate. should I give a full breakdown or just an rough estimate or advise costs are an expenses of the estate and will be in the accounts in due course

I presume that you have had your client’s agreement to your terms of business. You need to ask your client if he/she is agreeable to you providing the other beneficiaries with copies.

Patrick Moroney

Bwl solicitors

The Legal ombudsman seem to disagree, I thought my contract was with my client. Apparently the beneficiary’s have a right to question my costs and I am obliged to disclose my costs estimate and any costs charged to the beneficiary’s even if this is not agreed by my client.

No doubt it is relevant whether or not the beneficiary enquiring about costs is due to receive a share of residuary estate.

Rightly or wrongly, when a practitioner is employed by a Personal Representative to administer an estate the LO and the SRA have both determined that all the estate beneficiaries are ‘users of the law firm’s services’ and are therefore owed a duty of care. This needs to be borne in mind when deciding whether to impart or withhold information. It is, of course, fertile ground for a conflict of interest if the PR disagrees with the release of information and refuses to permit it…

rachel2, you are not required to give any costs information to a residuary beneficiary - but the Law Society says it is “good practice” and the Legal Ombudsman says “it would be prudent”.

I quoted the advice of the Law Society and a report from the Legal Ombusdman at greater length in this post in another thread:

The consensus seems to be that you should give costs information at the outset to all residuary beneficiaries - whether or not they want it.

Timothy Phillips